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Open Oklahoma City seat in state House will not be filled by special election

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 20, 2012
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Voters in state House District 88 in Oklahoma City won't be filling the post which has been vacant the past month, according to a measure signed into law Monday by the state's acting governor.

The House of Representatives voted 80-5 to pass Senate Bill 91, which prohibits special elections from being held if a vacancy in office occurs at any time during an even-numbered year.

The Senate passed the bill last week.

Lt. Todd Lamb received the bill Monday and, after consulting with Gov. Mary Fallin, who is vacationing out of state, signed the measure into law, a spokeswoman said.

SB 91 replaces a state law that calls for the governor to set a special election if a vacancy occurs in a legislative, congressional or county commission office by March 1 of an election, or even-numbered, year.

Legislators moved quickly on the bill because anyone elected to fill the unexpired term in House District 88 wouldn't take office until after this year's session adjourns in late May.

Also, lawmakers were concerned it would be confusing for voters to fill both the unexpired term as well as the regular term at the same time.

“It creates a parallel of a special election occurring at the same time a general election is occurring, which creates an enormous amount of confusion,” said Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City, the House author of SB 91.

Will save money

Al McAffrey resigned his House District 88 seat Feb. 22 shortly after being elected in a special election to the state Senate. He resigned his House post the day after election results were approved.

SB 91 had to be signed by Wednesday or else an election to fill McAffrey's House seat would have been held at the same time voters were electing a candidate to fill the same seat for the next two years.

Fallin had 30 days to set the election.

The state should save several thousand dollars by not having to print ballots for McAffrey's unexpired term, state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said.

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